SUSAN DONALDSON AND DAVID PERRY, UK, THE CLASSIC MEKONG, MAR 2017
What a wonderful experience! From start to finish this was a first-class trip in every way. The RV Mekong Pandaw is a wonderful river ship. The staff are superb as is the food and service. The cabins are well appointed and very comfortable as well as being kept spotlessly clean. The opportunity to visit remote villages, markets and temples and meet the locals was a real treat. Congratulations Pandaw on supporting so many charities along the way.
We boarded in Vietnam and cruised up river into Cambodia with many stops and excursions on the way. With only 48 passengers each excursion was easily and quickly executed, sometimes using sanpans to ferry us into smaller channels and other times by the crew jumping ship with shovels, creating 'steps' in the shoreside for disembarkation. Such a superb insight into real life for the river communities in both countries which form the majority of the rural population. The biggest bonus was - no mosquitos! We assumed wrongly that this could be a problem!
The Pandaw staff all seem to have a passion for their job and nothing is too much trouble for them. We can't wait for the next Pandaw experience, possibly Myanmar or Laos!
VALERIE JOHN, UK, THE CLASSIC MEKONG, FEB 2017
I have just spent one of the best weeks of my life on the Mekong being looked after by your wonderful crew. The ship was first class and all your crew were a credit to you. Leo gave us lots of information about your company and nothing was too much to ask for, a truly fantastic experience.
I am joining your ship in Burma for another cruise on the Irrawaddy for seven nights in October. I am really looking forward to that.
VALERIE AND STEVE KNOTT, UK, THE IRRAWADDY, DEC 2016
I cannot speak highly enough of the crew on RV Pandaw II; we were totally cosseted every inch of the way. They made our trip exceptional in so many ways. Each day was inspirational, in the way that they had all so carefully thought out things that would please us and Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations were just superb - from the cocktail party on the sandbank to the fireworks at midnight.
All Pandaw crew were first class, but Thu Ya Tun was outstanding. I would be most grateful if you would be able to arrange for him to receive a special mention. He was our waiter and a new member to the Pandaw team. Everyone just loved his happy, cheerful outlook on life, his excellent command of English and the way he looked after us all; remembering our names and pre-empting everything we needed. He was an absolute credit to the Pandaw team. I know that he will be earmarked him for promotion, like our Expedition Manager Leo, he's an exceptional young man.
May I take this opportunity to wish them good health, peace of mind and contentment in the year ahead.
Valerie and Steve
TREVOR & JAN GREENWOOD, AUSTRALIA, HALONG BAY & THE RED RIVER, AUG 2016
We have just completed our third Pandaw cruise (Hanoi/Red River), and already thinking of the next destination.
Our boat “Angkor Pandaw” was looking very trim and presentable. Our cabin (201) very comfortable, and kept that way by the care and attention of the cabin attendant on a daily basis. He often found little ways to provide those extra touches which add to the enjoyment of the cruise.
All staff were attentive, and clearly well skilled in their various activities. Friendly, without being too familiar. The dining salon was immaculate and served up delicious and varied dishes of both eastern and western varieties. Particular attention was paid to my wife’s vegetarian diet which was pleasing. We would rate dining salon staff, and chefs, first class.
Our two independent guides, Mr Vu, and Mr Duoc, did an excellent job in providing commentary and leading the group on the various excursions. It’s fair to say that in comparison with other Mekong, and Myanmar cruises, the Hanoi/Red River cruise doesn’t always compare scenically, but it is still a very worthwhile and enjoyable cruise. When shore excursions not available, other on-board entertainments were organised. One particular shore excursion was a visit to hear the Hat Xoan singing and dancing at Hung Lo temple (Viet Tri). My wife and I are former Australian diplomats who have worked and lived in Vietnam. It is fair to say that this performance is one of the most impressive we have seen over the years. Not only is it highly entertaining, but of great cultural significance, both to visiting tourists, as well as to the Vietnamese themselves. Please continue to support this activity, it is very important. Another good show was the water puppets at Thanh Ha. Comparable with those staged in Hanoi, and in a natural, authentic setting.
All boat and vehicle transfers well organised using safe and efficient boats and vehicles.
The farewell by all crew members enjoyable and memorable. Many passengers joined in the singing and dancing.
Paul, again Pandaw has done us proud. More travel already scheduled fore 2016, but already thinking Pandaw for 2017. Perhaps Borneo (we know Kuching having lived in Malaysia for five years), or, maybe the Ganges. Have visited India (including Palace on Wheels) a couple of times, but seen from the deck of a boat will bring a new perspective. Who knows?
We wish you and all at Pandaw every future success. Wish you could find rivers navigable enough to float a boat in Sri Lanka, another of our favourite destinations. In the meantime stay safe, well and happy.
Trevor and Jan Greenwood
KITTY C, USA, MANDALAY PAGAN PACKET, FEB 2016
The trip was great! Pandaw is an excellent company and I would go on another of their cruises in a heartbeat.
Food was good, crew was attentive, cabins very large and lots of deck area to sit and watch the river. I liked the pace of the day- 7-9 breakfast, 9-11:30ish morning expedition, lunch at 12:30, 3-4:30ish afternoon expedition, cocktails at 6:30, 7:15 briefing, dinner at 7:30 and an evening program at 9pm. Plenty of downtime and together time.
The Kindat Pandaw could hold 36 people and we only had 24 people. 24 for one tour guide was about the maximum size. Any more than that and you wouldn't be able to see or hear.
LORNA & DAVID WILLIAMS, UK, THE CLASSIC MEKONG, NOV 2015
Mr Strachan, my wife and I have just returned from a 7 night cruise on the Mekong Pandaw and it was the highlight of the holiday. The attention to the smallest detail and the friendliness of the crew made the whole trip such a delight. We were even presented with a cake to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary which as lovely thought. The shore excursions were interesting and varied and we saw some of the poverty that exists in Cambodia. It was good to see Pandaw helping out in the local communities and putting something back.
The whole crew were amazing from the dining room staff, [who loved having a joke with us] to the chefs, [who provided the wonderful and varied food] to the housekeeping staff, [who kept our rooms so clean] and ,of course,.. the lovely barman [ who always remembered what you drank]. So to pick one member of the crew out for special praise was not easy but it just had to be the Purser, Rorn Saroun who ran a ' tight ship'. He was always keeping an eye on things and nothing seemed to escape his attention. He was often in the background but his organisational ability was always evident. In particular when we had a problem getting back to the boat after heavy rain he was the one coordinating things with our guide on the bus!
I can't think of anything much you could do to improve things but if they do decaf coffee in Indo China it would be good to have some on board?
Do keep up the good work and I wish you continued success.
PS I was part of the cruise where all the passengers wore their Pandaw kimonos to dinner on the last night. I am sure you will hear about that as even the Captain had to come and take a look!!
Reply from Pandaw
Dear Mr and Mrs Williams
Thank you for writing to me and I am so glad your Mekong cruise went well and that Purser Saroun and his team looked after you. Congratulations on your 30th Anniversary - you certainly chose the best place to celebrate it. I will pass on your kind words to Saroun and all the team.
I am sorry there was no decaffe. Normally there should at least be a jar of instant. I will remind them, thanks for telling me!
Best wishes for future trips!
DAVID AUBE, CANADA, PAGAN & THE UPPER IRRAWADDY, OCT 2015
We have just completed the Pagan and Upper Irrawaddy river cruise which started on October 22 and it was the most fantastic cruise that we have ever taken.
We could not have asked for anything more on this fabulous cruise, the food was wonderful, the teak boat was beautiful and very comfortable and two staff members made this trip a wonderful experience.
Harry the guide was absolutely exceptional. He was engaging in his conversations and is just a wealth of knowledge concerning his country, culture and values. He truly made this experience a memorable one.
The other member was Myo. He has a good sense of hospitality and is a dedicated individuals in all his activities. As a result of a family emergency, Myo had replaced the chief purser and truly did a good job and I strongly believe that he has all the skills necessary to undertake this job full time and will be quite successful at it.
Thank you for making this trip truly exceptional for us.
JANE BELL, AUSTRALIA, PAGAN & THE UPPER IRRAWADDY, OCT 2015
I have just returned home after 10 wonderful days on the RV Katha Pandaw cruising from Pagan to the Upper Irrawaddy. This is my second Pandaw cruise but my first in Myanmar and I would like to thank the captain, crew and tour guide of the RV Katha Pandaw for making this first visit to Myanmar such a wonderful experience.
The crew were so professional, caring and kind to me (a single traveller) and our tour guide, Willy, most informative on our excursions ashore. He soon discovered that my interest was in Botany and would point out and name all the local plants along the way.
On my last morning on board the RV Katha, I woke early and sat on the upper deck listening to the chanting of the monks and the stirrings of daily life on the Irrawaddy. I thought about the wonderful past 10 days, all the wonderful places we had seen, how lucky I had been to have such a good bunch of travel companions and the special care from all the crew.
And my special friend, U Naing Naing Win, who gave me the gift of true kindness during our many excursions ashore. He was at my side, literally, every step of the way, and shared with me his fried crickets (yummy) and delicious noodles in the market at Katha on my birthday.
Please thank them all for the lovely memories. Jay-zu-ding-ba-de.
With kind regards
Daw Chau (Auntie Sweetie)
THE CLASSIC MEKONG, FEB 2015
In February my wife and I boarded the Angkor Pandaw in Ho Chi Minh city. From that moment we were to be treated to First class meals First Class service and First Class accommodation for the next 7 nights. Included in this trip up the Mekong were shore visits to villages, Temples and Schools the itinerary was endless and professionally organised. The guides in Vietnam and in Cambodia were very good and informative and the crew were always on hand to give advice or to help, nothing was to much trouble and always with a smiling face. There is nothing better than watching the people carry on with their everyday lives as you cruise slowly up the river.On board entertainment was also provided in the way of films or shows again top quality. The boat itself boasted rich dark wood everywhere and very well maintained. I could have stayed forever and when the dreaded day came to disembark the whole crew lined on the river bank to bid us goodbye. it was a floating Claridges. A cruise on the Mekong is a must whether take a long cruise like this or a short one for just a couple of days, you must do it.
MR AND MRS DEAKIN
We recently spent eight nights on the Irrawaddy river, on the ‘Orient Pandaw’, between Yangon and Mandalay and had a wonderful holiday. My travel agent had told the company that I was on a strict gluten free diet. ‘No problem’ - there was gluten free food at every meal. I had taken rice crackers and packaged soups, as a precaution, but they were not needed. As I wrote in my diary, the large, cheerful, friendly chef on board was at my shoulder at every meal, pointing out the special dishes he had prepared, or assuring me that either everything on offer was gluten free, or perhaps warning me that the noodles, or the bread, or the dessert were not for me. Some times a dish of g-f dessert was discretely slipped beside my plate when everyone else was off selecting from the other sweets on offer, or I had g-f biscuits to have with the soup, or congee to go with the meat and vegetables at lunch, or sitting on the deck before dinner a plate of g-f nibbles was there for me to share with our pre-dinner drinks. At one time, a ‘gluten free supplement for the elderly’ was proudly displayed and of course I gave myself a large serving, though I didn’t need reminding that I was ‘elderly’! I suspect the chef had been off to the supermarket and bought anything and everything with a g-f logo.
This was a holiday when I found that being a coeliac was understood, and I wanted to tell you the Coeliac Society and Paul from Pandaw how much I appreciated that. I had an unusual overseas holiday, with no worries about diet, because there was cordial hospitality and understanding of my dietary requirements from everyone. I should also tell you that we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary on this voyage, and on that evening a beautiful anniversary cake was served to all our fellow passengers – and a dear little heart shaped gluten free cake was there for me! Of course the holiday wasn’t only about food – there were friendly Burmese people in elegant longhis, pagodas, monasteries, paddy fields, river traffic, and the history, architecture and archaeology of this fascinating country.
A holiday I can recommend, wholeheartedly.